Motorsport fans rejoice, because Autosport International is underway. This huge racing show is where the motorsport season starts, with some of the best drivers and teams joining legions of car enthusiasts to set the scene for another year of thrilling racing action. Our man is at the NEC Birmingham to bring you the most exciting race cars and the most vibrant paint jobs.
Aston Martin Vantage GTE
Behold: one of the coolest-looking racers at Autosport International. The Aston Martin Vantage GTE competes in the World Endurance Championship (WEC), which includes the Le Mans 24 Hours. It’s powered by a 4.0-litre AMG V8 and weighs 1,245kg – 300kg less than the road version. Rivals for the Vantage include the Porsche 911 RSR and BMW M8 GTE.
Toyota GT86 by Liberty Walk
The Toyota GT86 is renowned for its balanced chassis and perfect blend of grip and slip. What slamming the suspension to the floor and fitting steamroller tyres does for that is debatable, but nobody can deny the wow-factor of this wide-arched Liberty Walk bodykit.
Porsche 935 (2019)
Porsche 70th birthday present to itself, the 935 is a track-only special based on the 700hp GT2 RS. Its styling evokes the legendary 935 racer that earned the nickname ‘Moby Dick’ in the 1970s. Just 77 examples of the 2019 935 will be built. No, you can’t afford one. And yes, they’re all sold out.
Porsche 911 GT3 RS
The GT2 RS went faster, but for many (us included) the ‘991.2’ GT3 RS is the ultimate version of the outgoing 911. Its 4.0-litre naturally aspirated flat-six makes 520hp at 8,250rpm, and keeps on screaming until 9,000rpm. It’s also lapped the Nürburgring in 6min 56.4sec – a second swifter than the 899hp 918 Spyder.
Alpina B10 3.5
The thinking man’s alternative to an E34 M5, the Alpina B10 3.5 uses a tuned, 260hp version of the BMW 535i straight-six, plus some carefully chosen modifications. This Island Green example looks fantastic with Alpina’s trademark pinstripes, not forgetting those iconic multi-spoke alloys.
Along with the LaFerrari and Porsche 918 Spyder, the P1 is one of the ‘Holy trinity’ of hypercars that dominated the first half of this decade. A combined output of 916hp from its twin-turbocharged V8 and electric motor means 0-62mph in 2.8 seconds and 217mph flat-out. When new, the P1 cost £866,000, but you’ll pay around twice that for one today.
Honda Civic Type R BTCC
Honda first entered the BTCC in 1991 and can boast no fewer than four manufacturers’/constructors’ titles. Last year, Matt Neal finished ninth overall in the Halfords Yuasa Racing Civic Type R, with Dan Cammish finishing one place lower in car number 27 (pictured). This year, the BTCC year gets underway at Brands Hatch in April, with Colin Turkington and Team BMW returning to defend the titles won in 2018. In 2019, he will compete for a record-equalling fourth drivers’ championship.
Renault has built some of the greatest hot hatches of all-time, so there’s lots to love about this trio of French fancies. In the foreground is a Renault 5 Gordini Turbo, a car that was there at the very birth of the hot hatch. Renault was one of the early pioneers of the ‘just add turbo’ approach, with the 5 Gordini Turbo joining turbocharged versions of the 18 and Fuego in the range. The Gordini Turbo – or Alpine Turbo in other markets – didn’t look too dissimilar to the regular 5, but did have the obligatory ‘TURBO’ sticker on the rear windows. These things mattered in the early 80s.
Toyota Yaris WRC
Once a formidable force in WRC – particularly in the 1990s – Toyota made a welcome return to world rallying in 2017. Toyota Gazoo Racing is based in Finland, with former world champion Tommi Mäkinen in charge of proceedings. The Yaris proved to be a formidable challenger in 2018, winning five races on the way to Toyota lifting the manufacturers’ crown. Following his sacking from the Citroen team in 2018, Kris Meeke will race for Toyota in 2019. The new WRC season gets underway at Monte Carlo at the end of the month, with the calendar bolstered by the new Rally Chile in May.
Ariel Atom 4
Ariel unveiled the Atom 4 at last year’s Goodwood Festival of Speed – the biggest change to the Atom since its release in 1999. Only three parts were carried over: the clutch, brake pedals and fuel cap. Thanks to a 324hp Honda Civic Type R motor, the Atom 4 will hit 60mph in just 2.8 seconds and 100mph in 6.8 seconds, before reaching a top speed of 162mph. If you fancy joining the 1,800 or so existing Atom owners, deliveries will commence in the spring, with a price tag just shy of £40,000.
BMW M3 (E30)
This BMW M3 is far from standard – which is sure to upset a few people – but it will turn heads at Autosport International. It’s on the Air Lift Performance stand, with the company showcasing its 3H air suspension. The factory Macau Blue paint contrasts nicely with the 17-inch Rotiform LHR rims and red leather, with the overall look one of ‘OEM+’.
The 917-30 raced in the Canadian-American Challenge Cup (Can-Am) series in the early 1970s. It weighs 849kg and has a 5.4-litre twin-turbo flat-12 that produces (depending on boost) anything from 1,100hp to 1,500hp. Racing driver Mark Donohue once recorded 0-200mph in 13.4 seconds. Gulp.
Alpine A110 by Litchfield
One could argue the Alpine A110 is just about perfect. The judges in several 2018 ‘car of the year’ contests certainly thought so. However, that hasn’t stopped tuning company Litchfield from adding its own spin, namely 21 percent more power and torque. An extra 50hp (300hp total) for £995 sounds good value – we’re hoping to drive it soon.
Force India 2018 F1 car
The new 2019 Force India won’t be revealed until 13 February, so this is the 2018 car – complete with fetching pink livery. We’re sure that rippled front wing is effective, but it sure ain’t pretty. Force India is based near the NEC show hall at Silverstone, while team owner Lawrence Stroll is Canadian.
In 1993, a Jaguar XJ220C driven by John Nielsen, David Brabham and David Coulthard secured a GT class victory in the Le Mans 24 Hours race. Sadly, car number 50 was disqualified for its lack of catalytic converters, so the race win was scrubbed from the history books.
Milton Keynes-based Nero Design doesn’t do subtle. These Lamborghinis should tell you as much. As if the Urus wasn’t in-yer-face enough already, the Nero upgrades include a 800hp engine power boost, 22- to 24-inch wheels and more carbon fibre than you could shake a Chrome Turquoise stick at.
Lamborghini Diablo SV
The Miura was the first Lamborghini to wear the SV (Super Veloce) badge, with the Diablo following suit at the end of the 1990s. In common with other SVs, power was increased, with further upgrades including an adjustable rear spoiler, larger brakes with better cooling, bigger wheels and a new engine cover. Crucially, the Diablo SV was also rear-wheel drive. Nice.
Ferrari 2018 F1 car
Another of 2018’s Formula One stars, the Ferrari SF71H was piloted by Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Räikkönen. It took victory is six out of 21 races, helping Ferrari to second place in the constructors’ championship (behind Mercedes-AMG). The 2019 car will be revealed in February.
Range Rover Sport by Lumma
We’re not sure if there are any Premier League footballers at the show, but this Lumma Design CLR RS will almost certainly appeal to them. Lumma offers a range of conversion packages for the Range Rover Sport, with prices starting from £26,000. Options include 22- or 23-inch rims, fibre optic daytime running lights and some toned down and modest paint jobs…
Porsche 911 Targa
Lone Pine Garage of Buckinghamshire was commissioned to create this beautiful ‘backdate’ Porsche 911 Targa. The basis was a 1985 911 Targa, with the owner wishing to retain the reliability of the later models but with the styling of something much older. Custom features include a colour-coded tachometer, gold Targa badges and tan leather seats. If you fancy it, Horsepower Hangar will sell it to you for £129,995.
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